National Geographic : 1954 Feb
244 Funicular, Banks, and Harbor Say Hong Kong as Surely as the Eiffel Tower Says Paris Like buckets in a well, cable cars slide up and down Hong Kong Island's steep side. A 10-minute ascent takes sight-seers 1,300 feet up Victoria Peak. There they look down on the banking and commercial center, dominated by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (left) and Bank of China (page 249). to foot carry bags of flour. To a fat tallyman sitting on the quay they give a numbered stick when they pass. Into the boats go tea, duck eggs, silk, ginger, camphorwood chests, Chinese hats stacked like soup plates, and other Oriental goods, plus Western products being transshipped. Afloat, youngsters play about the decks, deftly keeping from underfoot. Women do household chores, while junk masters catch forty winks or play mah-jongg. Family wash blows gaily from the rigging; herbs grow in dirt-filled cans. Chickens and young pigs hanging in baskets from the high sterns swing like pendulums. Some 125,000 people like these live on junks and sampans, being carried ashore only when they die. They have their own language and form a separate community with its own floating shops and restaurants, its own age-old customs. Their strange craft, with ribbed, finlike sails, fill Hong Kong waters. Piracy and Smuggling Tales of piracy and smuggling run through many a boat family's past. Today a few junks slip occasionally into hidden China coves with forbidden cargo, but the rest keep to their workaday jobs-catching the colony's fish and hauling its food and freight.